“Critical Analysis of the Provisions for Senior Citizens in the Union Budget 2015-16”

“Critical Analysis of the Provisions for Senior Citizens in the Union Budget 2015-16”
By
Dr. Dilip Satbhai, Hon. Director, International Longevity Centre-India (ILC-I)

Date: 17th April 2015. Venue: Sir Pudumjee Hall, MCCI&A, Tilak Road, Pune. Time: 5.30 to 7.00 pm.

In his welcome address, Mr. Jayant Umranikar, Chairman, ILC-I, said, “Each one is in search of Happiness and Not Unhappiness. We need to be prepared for this search and especially so, as Elders. For this, there are three areas which need our planning- Physical, emotional or mental and financial well-being.”

He added that, for an elder to maintain his dignity and self-respect, it is obviously good to be independent in every way. But he cautioned that, interdependence is also important. Having good relations with family and friends is important to ensure good physical and mental health. He also urged the seniors to give some time for one’s self. Exercise is important so that all the organs are in good working condition.

Financial preparation for retirement is of crucial importance, for which this lecture by the expert, Dr. Satbhai, would be of great help, Mr. Umranikar concluded.

Dr. Dilip Satbhai, the speaker on the occasion, with his profound knowledge and expertise in finances, financial planning, began by saying, that though it appeared initially, as if the Union Budget had a lot to offer for the seniors, in effect, it did not. The reason being, the various schemes or concessions which were mentioned in the budget, were specifically meant for the younger generations to avail with a view to ensuring them the benefit of tax concessions.

The Budget also was not very supportive to the plight of the underprivileged elderly women which form one of the most vulnerable segments of the elderly population. The Union Budget should have marked out a policy of “Pension for All’ which unfortunately was not the case.

One suggestion made by Dr. Satbhai was that, concessions in Income-tax may be given to the children of senior citizens, based on whether they are taking care of their elderly parents or not. Such strategies would of good use to both, the elders and their children too, as it would ensure a linkage that, it is because of the elderly parents that the children are given these benefits.

Before speaking in detail on the provisions for seniors in the Budget, Dr. Satbhai urged the government to adopt a Rights-based approach in all its policies, programmes and schemes, rather than a Needs-based approach, so that the concept of ‘charity, dole or favour’ would not arise.

He also cited that, just as there are Mid-day meals for school children, such a programme could be considered for elders too, and given the fact that seniors require very small quantities of nutritional food, quite akin to the school children, this scheme would also be of great use to the underprivileged senior citizens.

Some of the major highlights of the provisions for senior citizens in the Union Budget 2015-16, as pointed out by Dr. Satbhai are:

  • While speaking of Health Insurance, he said that under the new Budget, the rebate in Income-tax towards the Health insurance premium has been raised from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000/-
  • The deduction limit of Rs 60,000 towards expenditure on account of specified diseases of serious nature is proposed to be enhanced to Rs 80,000 in case of very senior citizens over the age of 80 years.
  • Additional deduction of Rs 25,000 will be allowed for differently-abled persons under Section 80DD and Section 80U of the Income-tax Act.
  • Limit on deduction on account of contribution to a pension fund and the new pension scheme increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh.
  •  Additional deduction of Rs 50,000 for contribution to the new pension scheme u/s 80CCD.
  •  In order to ensure social security and promote public health, the government has also proposed schemes like Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna, ATAL Pension Yojana and tax incentives for National Pension System.
  • The soon-to-be-launched Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna will cover accidental death risk of Rs 2 lakh for a premium of just Rs 12 per year.
  • For the benefit of senior citizens, service tax exemption will be provided on Varishta Bima Yojana.